The Year in Music
High notes from our extensive coverage of the local scene
December 24, 2009
While the Allies spent January 1, 1942 signing the Declaration of the United Nations, The Alliez spent 01/01 of '09 snagging ink in MauiTime's first Music Scene article of the year.
Contributor Ynez Tongson admitted being "usually suspicious of a band that intentionally misspells its name as well as song titles," but said that in The Alliez's case she'd make an exception. Why? Because "while Nazi Germany has collapsed, good music never dies."
And then there was AnDen. In the second review of the year, former Staff Writer Kate Bradshaw took us around the world in search of the meaning behind this local band's name. Could it be found in Peruvian "terraces carved into Andes mountainsides," or on a "train platform" in Spain? Perhaps Switzerland held the key, where "anden translates as 'spirit,' though its alternate meaning is 'duck.'" Nope. Instead, the answer is found in Hawaii's pidgin roots, according to Damien Awai, AnDen's singer, songwriter and ukulele player. As Bradshaw reported, not only does it mean that "people are always looking for the next thing," but "also refers to looking forward, to examining possibilities and embracing hope."
In June, Bradshaw eloquently described the slack-key guitar of Henry Kaleialoha Allen as "the musical equivalent of sea glass, a sound drenched in Malibu rum and day-old sunshine." Bradshaw was equally poetic about songstress Anuhea, writing that her self-titled debut album "seamlessly folds her influences—reggae, Hawaiian, acoustic folk—into one cohesive, velvety ribbon."
What's in a name? The Assault Squad Riders—the King Kekaulike High School alumni and hip-hop trio who've been "attacking the music scene" together for over ten years—invented their name not to scare people, but as a metaphor "that best described us as being strong and to push forward instead of being pushed around."
To the contrary, Bad Kitty's sly moniker—though unintentional—seems to be a subconscious slip, as the band members have a regular engagement with Jimmy Mac & The Kool Kats.
The "all under 20 years of age" members of The Cities Love You may have their whole lives ahead of them, but they couldn't waste any more time waiting for the Department of Liquor Control to let them play booze-selling venues, and so shipped off to California after their Music Scene feature.
To the city they went, to employ the energy behind, as Bradshaw reported, "their enigmatic name… from what [Jon Belen, lead singer and guitarist] has experienced while traveling in large cities. They seemed welcoming, and more likely to appreciate the sounds he and his band want to generate."
Reggae-rocker Desmond "Dezman" Yap, like the above referenced youngin's, was of a tender age when he wrote his first tunes, and has been on my music radar for a long time. Like, all the way back to my middle school days when I was one of those students of Kalama Intermediate who learned and performed the popular "Waiting for your Love," which Dezman penned as an eighth grader.
In her February story, Bradshaw pegged it smartly, writing, "reggae's popularity in the isles rests in the open wounds still gushing in colonialism's wake. While much of it focuses on love and island life, reggae music is music of struggle, of raging against hegemony and loss of cultural identity. At the same time, it's also full of optimism and calls for unity."
Unity was in surprisingly short supply when I did a cover profile of The Throwdowns in August, ahead of their debut album release. The story stirred up a lot of comments at mauitime.com, with the feedback almost equally split between vehement haters and staunch supporters. In the end, though, The Throwdowns unflappable positivity won out, and the band continues to spread its influence, recently as far as lead singer Erin Smith's native Canada.
Back to bands with interesting names, there's The Flying Sheep Problem, which Bradshaw described thusly: "Take Tool. Add Herbie Hancock. Mix in some Morphine and top it off with Coltrane. To the uninitiated, this mix may seem somewhat discordant. But with the right combination of musicians wielding the right kind of vision, it could actually work."
Bradshaw further explored genre-bending with the "mysterious" Maui troupe Guerilla Jazz, which "has no regard for genre." For example, the band goes guitar-less, instead relying heavily on Chef Strum, who wows the crowd (when the "band plays out periodically") by working the uke and effects peddles like the wa.
Many good relationships begin with embarrassment, and so it was with my introduction to MauiTime readers. In my very first Music Scene piece, I profiled world-renowned DJ Diplo— who had just disembarked from a plane returning from Japan's Fuji Rock Fest—and wrote that he had, "unbeknownst to him, pop[ped] my Music Scene interview cherry."
It went unrecognized by me, until the issue went to press, that my 'ohana would henceforth be reading what I write. Add a too-quick Facebook post of a link to the candy-colored, sorta-clothed pseudo-porno that is the music video for the track "Pon de Floor," and my mortification was complete.
At least I've got a New Year to redeem myself.
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